9 over-the-top travel gifts to give and get in 2023

Every day at 11:11am there is a ritual: we make a wish. And every day at 11:11am, we have been wishing for this year’s most over-the-top, extraordinary and extra-plus travel experiences (and luggage).

At 11:11am, we envision how we’ll fly first class and arrive stress-free, on-time with our posh luggage. We’ll have limitless resources to visit the world’s most remote and beautiful places in supreme luxury (on a yacht in Palau maybe?) and have endless time off to enjoy it. 

Ahh, to dream. But even if these are a bit out of reach and unrealistic, as the saying goes, when you stop dreaming, you stop living. So here are our picks for the wishiest-wish list of luxury travel gifts.

Silver Endeavour

1. Luxury expedition cruise to Antarctica aboard the Silver Endeavour

Champagne, caviar, spa treatments, butlers, gourmet cuisine – and penguins diving from ice floes? Yes, please. Silversea Cruises has cornered the market in world-class expedition cruising, exploring the farthest reaches of the globe. And aboard the 200-passenger, polar-class expedition ship Silver Endeavour, your wildest dreams are eclipsed by the majestic, natural beauty just outside your suite window. 

Just imagine ringing in the new year aboard a Zodiac in the Antarctic Peninsula. A voyage to Antarctica is one of the most wished-for experiences on this planet, and with this operator, you can bank on a once-in-a-lifetime journey with unparalleled expertise and personalized service. 

Rimowa cabin luggage

2. Rimowa carry-on suitcase

When we’re strutting through the airport, we picture ourselves sporting Rimowa’s chic and durable Essential Cabin case ($900) in gloss green. There aren’t many of us who’d say no to this renowned German brand’s expertly-engineered polycarbonate design, or its lifetime warranty. Even better, in the rare case that a repair is needed, Rimowa will come to your hotel (in select locales) to service your luggage. Both lightweight and deceptively roomy, an expert packer could easily fit the goods for a week-long trip. After all, good things do come in small packages.

Game reserve in South Africa

3. A private conservation safari in South Africa

Pelorus is a luxury travel company that creates trips with the precision and expertise of a military strategist. Literally. Both founders, Geordie Mackay-Lewis and Jimmy Carroll, are former British Army Captains, and their rep for making the impossible possible is well-earned. Created by The Pelorus Foundation, guests of this inaugural six-person private conservation safari will stay at the Zuka Lodge inside the Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa.

Take part in rhino protection activities, as well as a privately guided pangolin research and monitoring experience, and spend a day with the local Zulu community. This trip is scheduled to depart on July 28, 2024. Proceeds will go directly to the projects and conservation teams at Phinda and those supported by The Pelorus Foundation. 

Emilia three-piece cashmere blanket set

4. Sofia 3-piece cashmere travel set

We love a cozy blanket. No matter where we are, it’s comforting and helps us to relax. Whether we’re traveling by airplane, train or in the back seat of the car, being cocooned by a soft pillow, blanket and eye mask helps alleviate any travel stresses. Editorial Director Fionnuala McCarthy is obsessed with this Emilia set from Sofia brand. Made of the softest of cashmere, you might find yourself snuggling up with it even when you are back home.


5. Explora Lodge Uyuni in Bolivia

Lonely Planet’s creative Director Annie Greenberg put this one on our radar. She says, “I’ve been wanting to experience an Explora property since I heard about them because, from what I understand they are just that — experiences. I’ve never been to Bolivia or Chile and spending time down in the salt flats feels like a dream trip waiting to happen. Santa baby, give me a call and I’ll tell you my frequent flier info. Here’s hopin’!”

Lounge carriage on a train

6. Orient Express La Dolce Vita Italian train trips

Reservations are now open for the Orient Express La Dolce Vita, which is to begin service in 2024 with six iconic Italian itineraries covering 16,000km (9900 miles) of railway, showcasing the country’s most sought-after destinations from the Alps in the north to Palermo in the south. From the comfort of first-in-class, 5-star carriages designed by Dimorestudio, guests will be immersed in 1960s glamour – a cinematic experience where you are the star. 

Also in 2024, Orient Express will launch its first hotels – Orient Express Palazzo Donà Giovannelli in Venice and Orient Express La Minerva in Rome – properties that will welcome passengers when they disembark the train. Traveling in such rarefied style is a journey through time and a feast for the senses. Relax in the lounge or dine in splendor in the elegant restaurant. Guests can choose from among 12 cabins and 18 suites, including the prestigious “La Dolce Suite”?

Luxury desert camp

7. Camp Sakira at Amangiri in Utah

Fit for a king, a queen or a Kardashian, Camp Sarika by Amangiri is located in the Utah desert and encompasses 600 acres of otherworldly landscape surrounded by towering mesas. Stay in one of the 12 canvas-topped pavilions that seamlessly meld into the environs, each with a private plunge pool.

Surrounded by three national parks and the Navajo Nation Reservation, Camp Sarika is an ideal place for those who wish to explore the nearby magnificence. If you’d rather focus on serenity and stillness, there’s a communal lounge and pool to socialize with your fellow escape artists. Sit beside the blazing campfire and take in the quiet of the night sky.


8. Four Seasons Explorer in Palau

When we named Palau, with its 340 coral and volcanic islands dotting the pristine and transparent waters of the western Pacific, to our 2024 Best in Travel list in October, the timing was auspicious. Around the same time, the ultra-luxurious vessel, Four Seasons Explorer, began sailing The Rock Islands Southern Lagoon of Palau. Explorer is a 129-foot catamaran with 10 staterooms and one suite. The main attraction is world-class scuba diving as well as snorkeling, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. The 3-deck ship also offers ample options for relaxation, including a spa and sundeck along with an indoor/outdoor restaurant. Multiple excursions bring visitors to the islands to learn about the history of the island, to learn about the culture, traditions, cuisines and most importantly, the people of Palau. There is no more extraordinary way to experience this far-flung tropical paradise. 

Cat Ba island, Vietnam

9. Go almost anywhere with Elsewhere by Lonely Planet

Elsewhere by Lonely Planet is a go-to travel-planning partner for those who want to travel responsibly and sustainably, but would like someone else to do the heavy lifting. Once you decide where to go (Elsewhere has operators in over 45 destinations all over the globe), Elsewhere will pair you with a local expert who knows the ins and outs of a destination and will work with you to create a personalized itinerary. Just book your flights, and they’ll do the rest.

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